Cover image for Backfire : Carly Fiorina's high-stakes battle for the soul of Hewlett-Packard
Backfire : Carly Fiorina's high-stakes battle for the soul of Hewlett-Packard
Burrows, Peter.
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Publication Information:
Hoboken, N.J. : J. Wiley & Sons, [2003]

Physical Description:
viii, 296 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
The showdown -- The emergence of Carleton Sneed -- Inside the HP way -- Trouble in paradise -- The making of a star -- Searching for a CEO -- An eventful honeymoon -- Unraveling -- Compaq cometh -- The November surprise -- Proxy fight -- The lawsuit.
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Table of contents
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HD9696.A3 U53172 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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An insider's look at the internal turmoil at one of the world's premier high-tech companies
This is the inside story of Hewlett-Packard Company's struggle to regain its former glory, and of the high-stakes battle between CEO Carly Fiorina and family scion Walter Hewlett over how best to achieve that goal. For decades, HP was admired not only for its innovative products and soaring stock price, but for its egalitarian corporate culture and father-knows-best integrity. Backfire explains how the company fell on hard times, recounts the historic decision that made Fiorina the world's top-ranking female executive, and brings to life the backlash that resulted when she tried to impose her charismatic salesmanship on the aging icon. Top BusinessWeek journalist Peter Burrows gives the dramatic blow-by-blow of Hewlett's effort to kill Fiorina's most controversial move of all, her $19 billion purchase of rival Compaq Computer. Fiorina won by a whisker, after the most expensive proxy fight in history and a dramatic lawsuit that accused the company of illegally fixing the vote. This gripping, ongoing story includes fascinating personalities and dramatic boardroom and courtroom drama.
Peter Burrows (Alameda, CA) has been a technology reporter for BusinessWeek for nine years and has covered the HP saga from the start. The department editor for BusinessWeek's computer coverage, he has been the principal chronicler of Fiorina's tenure at HP, and has written three cover stories on the subject. He has also written numerous other cover stories, including looks at Steve Jobs's Apple Computer and Sun Microsystems' Scott McNealy.

Author Notes

Peter Burrows has been a technology journalist for Business Week for nine years, during which time he has written several cover stories on Hewlett-Packard. As the department editor for Business Week's computer coverage, he has been the principal chronicler of Fiorina's tenure at Hewlett-Packard

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The now-famous garage in Palo Alto, California, where Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard started their company, is commonly known as the "birthplace of Silicon Valley." The humble beginnings and camaraderie that "Bill and Dave" had with HP workers formed the basis of what was known as "the HP Way," a noncompetitive, family orientation. This steady-as-she-goes attitude kept the company in consistent double-digit growth for decades. Flash forward to 2002. Both founding members of the company are gone, and son Walter B. Hewlett is suing high-powered CEO Carly Fiorina over her questionable merger with beleaguered Compaq. Fiorina was brought on board to make sweeping changes to the company, not the least of which was eliminating the HP Way. Burrows' narrative follows Fiorina's rocketing career from AT & T through Lucent Technologies through her signing as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, and focuses on the controversial merger with Compaq. Bold and brash but completely composed, Fiorina always succeeds in making the big moves and somehow manages to escape responsibility for the collateral damage. David Siegfried

Publisher's Weekly Review

Burrows, who reported on the merger of technology rivals Hewlett-Packard and Compaq for Business Week during late 2001 and early 2002, turns the notes from his day job into an uncompromising look at the deal and the woman who set it in motion, HP CEO Carleton Fiorina. Although George Anders's Perfect Enough (Forecasts, Jan. 20) covers the same territory, this account distinguishes itself with a deeper portrait of Fiorina. Beginning with her childhood as Cary Carleton Sneed, Burrows traces Fiorina's ascent through a second-tier MBA program to early positions at AT&T and Lucent, uncovering former associates who shadow her success story with tales of ruthless ambition and a tendency to abandon ventures before she could be tainted by their failure. Burrows also depicts the discord within HP ranks over Fiorina, whose marketing-honed strategies were seen as a betrayal of the "HP Way," the leadership principles established by the company's founders. Walter Hewlett, the second-generation director whose opposition to the merger intensified the shareholders' vote, gets substantially less play here than in Anders's version, and Burrows is much less accepting of Hewlett's version of events. But his skepticism also applies to HP's enthusiasm for the Compaq deal, which many industry experts scorned as a recipe for disaster. HP executives eventually stopped cooperating with Burrows once they determined they wouldn't be able to spin his reportage, but the book still manages to provide a richly detailed version of the legal wrangling that finally brought the deal to a close. Although the prose is somewhat hurried, the comprehensive and near-instantaneous analysis will impress business readers. Agent, Martha Millard. (Feb.) Forecast: This book and Perfect Enough have already been getting media coverage and will surely show up in the pages of every business magazine. Those curious enough will buy both books, though our preference lies with Burrows's account. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Prologuep. 1
1 The Showdownp. 13
2 The Emergence of Carleton Sneedp. 27
3 Inside the HP Wayp. 49
4 Trouble in Paradisep. 67
5 The Making of a Starp. 87
6 Searching for a CEOp. 119
7 An Eventful Honeymoonp. 135
8 Unravelingp. 157
9 Compaq Comethp. 175
10 The November Surprisep. 189
11 Proxy Fightp. 211
12 The Lawsuitp. 245
Epiloguep. 261
Notesp. 269
Sourcesp. 276
A Note about Sourcingp. 283
Indexp. 285